Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 29 Issue 1 (January 2019), Pages 1-77

The identity of Brexit: A cultural psychology analysis (pages 18-31)

Abstract In this paper, we propose a culturalist interpretation of the outcome of the Brexit referendum. This interpretation is grounded on the analysis of the U.K.'s cultural milieu, which is part of a more general study of the cultural milieus of several European countries. Specific to the United Kingdom, our analysis is based on a questionnaire carried out on a representative sample of U.K. respondents stratified by sociodemographic variables and geographic region (NUTS1). Responses to the questionnaire were subjected to multidimensional analysis—a combination of multiple correspondence analysis and cluster analysis. Findings about the multicountry analysis show how cultural milieus are characterized by five basic, embodied, affect‐laden, generalized worldviews (defined as “Symbolic Universes”). Four out of five symbolic universes consist of a way of interpreting reality by a specific anchorage (i.e., the ethical norm, the institutional order, the emotional experience interpersonal bond, and the belongingness). One symbolic universe can be viewed as the anomic reaction to the failure of those anchorages. Focusing on Brexit, by means of a discriminant analysis, it is showed how the incidence of the symbolic universes (and of the underpinning basic dimensions of meaning within the 12 U.K. macroregions') enables to identify differentially the macroregions with high proportion of “leave” at the Brexit referendum against those with low proportion. More specifically, the high “leave” macroregion are characterized by higher relevance of cultural forms anchored on local identity/belongingness. Findings are discussed within the wider aims of the project and its implications for a cultural psychology informed policymaking.

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